In order to test the threats posed by 3D printed guns police in Germany have decided to print some for themselves.
The debate over such objects started back in May last year when Cody Wilson, founder of the company Defence Distributed, made plans for a crude, 3D-printable handgun available online.
Wilson and his associates spent more than a year designing the ‘Liberator’ and were able to build and fire one using an $8,000 3D printer. Designs for the gun were downloaded more than 100,000 times before the US Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance demanded the blueprints be “removed from public access.”
The decision by German federal police to investigate the handgun for themselves is in response to a question posed in parliament by Die Linke (The Left Party). Both the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and Federal Police (BPOL) will be testing the weapon to see how it might make its way through security checks and the like.
This won’t be the first time a police force have tested the Liberator. In late May this year the Australian police also downloaded and printed their own copy of the weapon from materials worth around $35.
The Australian officials found that although the gun could fire a bullet 17cm into a standard firing block, it also had a nasty habit of exploding when discharged.
"Make no mistake," said Andrew Scipione, a police commissioner for the New South Wales Police, "being on either end of this weapon can be lethal."
Whilst the Liberator itself may be of only occasional use as a weapon, it could certainly be used to threaten individuals. And, as technology progresses, more capable weapons are sure to be designed.